Mehmet Sıdık Meşe, an inmate in southeastern Turkey’s Diyarbakır Prison, has been subjected to beating and torture by prison guards, said the Independent Lawyer’s Association’s (ÖHD), according to Turkish media.
A public statement from the Diyarbakır office of the ÖHD said Meşe was a victim of torture in the prison. Meşe’s family members were also present at the release of the statement in front of the ÖHD’s office.
Co-chair of the Diyarbakır ÖHD branch Muharrem Şahin said torture in prisons had to stop. “This has no place in a democratic country,” he added.
Meşe has been in prison for six months and has not yet appeared in court. According to his older brother Murat, the guards took Meşe from his ward to a separate room where they repeatedly beat him with truncheons and clubs. “He can’t hear as a result of the beatings and his eyes were bloodshot,” claimed Murat Meşe.
Meşe’s lawyer Azat Taşkın added that his feet had bruises, indicating they had been clubbed. He said when he went to visit Meşe in prison, he found that the administration had met with him on two or three separate occasions in an attempt to pressure him into silence.
“My client was beaten on December 1, and I found out that the prison administration met with him on December 2 and 3. They are working to cover up this incident,” he said.
Cihan Aydın from the Diyarbakır Bar said there had been previous complaints about torture in the same prison. He pointed out that despite serious allegations of human rights abuse, no one had faced repercussions. “The people who have turned a blind eye to such human rights violations are as guilty as those who committed them,” he said.
Aydın also said they would press charges against everyone who attempted to cover up the torture and insist on the immediate dismissal of those responsible.
The Diyarbakır Bar issued a statement on Monday saying although the prosecutor ordered an investigation into the case, the prison administration had not sent Meşe to the hospital for a physical examination. “This makes us believe that they are waiting for the bruises and other injuries to heal so any existing signs of torture are gone,” they said.
There have been widespread claims of torture in Turkey’s prisons and detention centers that have so far gone uninvestigated.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy and human rights defender Sezgin Tanrıkulu submitted a parliamentary question regarding torture in prisons.
The Justice Ministry answered Tanrıkulu’s question almost a year after its submission but in vague and general terms, saying that torture allegations were investigated but failing to provide the number of prisoners who have filed torture and abuse claims.
Turkey is party to several international conventions that have different review and inspection mechanisms such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe (CoE) and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). According to information published on the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, the country is currently party to 16 UN human rights conventions and 121 of the CoE’s 225 conventions and has signed 31 other conventions.
Yet, in the recent past the Turkish government has continuously disregarded the provisions of the constitution and failed to uphold its international obligations. For instance, Turkey has for four years blocked the publication of a report by a Council of Europe delegation that paid a fact-finding visit to Turkey in 2016 to investigate allegations of torture and ill treatment in Turkish correctional facilities.
Investigators with the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) interviewed various individuals in prison and recorded their stories in a report that was compiled after the visit. However, the details were never made public because Turkey vetoed the publication of the report. CPT President Mykola Gnatovskyy stated in 2017 that even though he “[wanted] to discuss the findings,” he could not comment on the report due to Ankara’s decision.